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Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

I am not sure what to make of this story. It feels awkward and somewhat uncomfortable, especially in the dialogue. A lot of the conversation doesn’t even occur in quotations, but in the context of the confusing and muddled paragraphs. I tied this largely to the¬†cultural separation but I realize that Yiyun Li creates this confusion on purpose. The characters themselves, Hanfeng, Siyu, and Professor Dai, are largely perplexed as well — they are unsure of their own desires and even of their own consciousness. Sexuality is complicated, especially with Siyu’s attraction to Professor Dai who also happens to be Hanfeng’s mother. There are so many twisting complications that seem to cross over one another but it’s almost as if the uncertainty contributes to the clarity of the story.¬†It is clear that none of the characters know how they feel about each other and about themselves. This story is drastically different than Butler’s “Snow,” thriving on simplicity and naivety. But the complex nature of this story is was seems to make it more intriguing and more appealing while simultaneously steering the reader away. The ending seemed to shed light on the story while also continuing to confuse me. It puts a melancholic cap on a story that is bursting with detail and sort of leaves you to sit and think and draw your own conclusions. But it is by no means a happy ending. Essentially, the characters are left to work with their loneliness and create a world in which they can “deal with it,” collectively.

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